Sunday, October 5, 2014

I'm Dyeing

Yarn. I'm dyeing yarn.

Not bad, eh? I finished that skein last night. It's still damp. The base is KnitPicks Bare Stroll Fingering Sock, 75% superwash Merino and 25% nylon. 

Here is all of my accumulated dyeing materials spread out in the kitchen:

I cleaned up the kitchen, put away as many food-related items as I could, and then spread out these heavy plastic signs (upside down) that my brother had picked up from an old job (heavy banners for sales that were bound for the trash). I strapped on an apron, gloves, and a lovely mask, then I proceeded to mix the dye powder (WashFast) with hot water to make 1% solution dye stock.

Before beginning, I wanted to play around with the colors. I picked this little experiment that I'd read about in both Callahan's Hand Dyeing and Rex's Complex Colors. Using Styrofoam egg cartons and a dropper, I placed 10 drops of one primary dye stock in one egg cup, 9 in the next, 8 in the next and so forth. Then I chose a different primary color and did the same from one of the resulting empty egg cups, making sure each one only contained a total of 10 drops. (Or mostly 10. I wasn't completely perfectly precise, ya know?) I used a paintbrush and water color paper to make my own little color grid:

Beautiful colors! I used the grid to attempt my first dye recipes! I also saved the experiment dye by using the little droppers to suck up the color from each egg cup (took forever) and squirted it all into a clean jar. That's the mystery grey color, third on the right, on the chart. I threw that little bit of stock into the final bath to help give the final colors a little deeper shade.

But, it turns out, I have a small problem, besides being new to this and lacking the pH strips to make sure I was adding enough citric acid at the tight time and heating it up at the tight time in order to still get layered colors and, oh, what have you. And that problem is my patience, or lack thereof. Just as in cooking, where a watched kettle will not boil, so will a watched dye pot not dye, apparently. The magic always happened after I'd run away in a huff and returned much later. It seemed like I was dyeing that one skein forever last night!

I do think I threw in too much dye with the first bath, so after the first skein (the one pictured above) had soaked up a deep purple where it was exposed (I twisted it as a "resist" technique for the first two layers), I through a second skein that was loose. It came out a lovely semi-solid, lighter purple. That skein is currently cooling in the dye pot right now. I gave it two more color treatments today.

All the supplies boxed up quite nicely for stashing in our overcrowded craft room.

(Except for that giant stock pot, a giant white plastic tub, and a colander.)

In other knitterly news, I began another project. This one was selected specifically as a travel-friendly project, because toting a cone of cotton around is not a great idea, regardless of how large my purse is.

This is the Jeweled Cowl and the "jewels" are supposed to be beads, but I am not adding beads. It is a loopy long cowl that can be worn to hang long, or doubled and be cozy around your neck. There is a nice shifting lattice pattern, but it is otherwise a simple stockinette pattern that really showcases a variegated yarn. This is Malabrigo Sock in Arbol, which I had purchased at this past April's Carolina Fiber Fest for the express purpose of becoming the Fall of Leaves shawl. I simply couldn't let it sit, pining, alone, gathering dust, any longer. I think it will be lovely as a simple cowl.  


  1. Interesting. Love your blog!!

    1. Thank you! I haven't been very consistent with my entries lately, but I'm still chugging along.

  2. Dyeing is such messy business, and I, too, have little patience for the process itself. However, I really like being able to take some boring or unappealing yarn and create a color I absolutely want to knit with! I should make a dye grid like yours, that must be so handy.

    1. Hi Alicia! The little grid works OK, but I think I'll have much more color control once I get a full range of warm primaries and cool primaries. Part of the problem so far has been that so many recommended amounts and recipes are for more yarn than I've been experimenting with so far. Scaling color recipes up and down is a bit touchy. But I'm really enjoying just playing!


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